Department Chairs and Full-time Faculty

John Mery, M.M.

Sylvania Department Chair of Music and Dance


John MeryJohn Mery has been teaching at Portland Community College’s Sylvania Campus since 1999. Since moving from Arizona to head the music program at Sylvania John has worked closely with transfer institutions to create a music curriculum that allows PCC students to seamlessly transfer to four-year universities, music conservatories and colleges. John’s students have gone on to complete undergraduate degree, master degrees, and doctorate degrees in music. His PCC students have successfully transferred to many music programs within the state, the region, and to many prominent national institutions including The Eastman School of Music in Rochester New York, Syracuse University, The Berkelee College of Music in Boston, Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle, California State University at Northridge, The New England Music Conservatory, , Full Sail University in Florida, Texas Christian University, Reed College, University of Portland, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Western Oregon University and Portland State University.

John is a critically acclaimed guitarist and recording artist who has released many recordings as a soloist and with his groups the Oregon Guitar Quartet and Tango Pacifico. He is an active member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Guitar Foundation of America. John is an active performer who has recently performed at the NW Guitar Festival, The Loudon County Guitar Festival in Virginia, The Guitar Foundation of America Festival in Fullerton California, and with Chamber Music Northwest. Regionally he has performed as soloist with the Oregon Symphony, and with the Portland Opera, and Third Angle New Music Ensemble. In 2013 and 2014 John toured Costa Rica as a featured performer with the Credomatic Music Festival.

John primarily teaches music theory, chamber ensemble and music history courses at PCC. He holds a Master of Music Degree from the University of Arizona where he attended on scholarship and worked as a graduate teaching assistant. John also is on the music faculty of Lewis and Clark College.

Jason Palmer, M.M.

Rock Creek Department Chair of Music


Jason PalmerJason Palmer is a drummer, percussionist, composer, and educator living in Portland, Oregon. He is nationally active in drum set performance, with appearances at St. Peter's Church and the Knitting Factory in New York, the Rochester Jazz Festival, the High Sierra Music Festival, the Gene Harris Jazz Festival, and the Calgary Jazz Festival. In addition, Jason acts as Department Chair of Music at Portland Community College's Rock Creek Campus.

Jason attended the University of Oregon, where he received a Bachelor's degree in Percussion Performance and Jazz Studies (Magna Cum Laude), as well as a Master's degree in Jazz Studies. Regionally, he has performed as a drummer at The Waterfront Blues Festival, the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, the Portland Jazz Festival, the Oregon Bach Festival, and the Oregon Festival of American Music. His performance and recording experience includes work with such artists as Danilo Perez, Joe Lovano, John Clayton, Ben Monder, Bobby Shew, Ron Miles, Dick Oatts, Dave Frishberg, Bucky Pizzarelli, John Zorn, Steve Wilson, Dick Hyman, Ken Peplowski, and Chuck Redd. Additionally, in 2011, Jason began his tenure as the drummer with the American Metropole Orchestra.

Upon moving to Portland, OR in 2011, Jason began playing regularly with many noted Portland jazz artists, including Randy Porter, George Colligan, Darrell Grant, John Gross, and Dan Balmer. Jason's recorded work includes releases on Origin Records (Toby Koenigsberg Trio and Jim Olsen), Space Age Bachelor Pad (The Daddies), and Crescent Records (Don Latarksi and Rue De Blues). His recordings have been reviewed in Cadence, All About Jazz, and the All Music Guide. In 2015, Jason was nominated for a grammy award " in the children's music category for his performance on the Lori Henriques album "How Great Can this Day Be".

Julianne R. Johnson-Weiss, B.F.A.

Sylvania Choral Director | Voice | Jazz History | Jazz Studies

Sam Barbara, D.M.A.

Rock Creek Director of Choral and Vocal Studies


Sam BarbaraDr. Samuel Barbara is the newly appointed Director of Choral and Vocal Studies at Portland Community College, Rock Creek Campus, where he conducts the chamber and concert choirs, teaches applied lessons and class voice. Before relocating home to Oregon, Samuel served as Director of Choral Activities and assistant professor of music at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. He completed his doctorate in choral music at the University of Southern California, where he was senior teaching assistant in the Department of Choral and Sacred Music and assistant conductor of the USC Thornton Chamber Singers. While at USC, he studied under Jo-Michael Scheibe, Nick Strimple, Cristian Grases and Donald Brinegar. Before moving to Southern California, Dr. Barbara served as Director of Choirs at Cleveland High School in Portland, where he was awarded the "Golden C" for excellence in teaching. Under his direction, the Cleveland "A" Choir won the 5A Oregon State Choir Championships three times. Samuel earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees from the University of Portland. After completing his undergraduate work, Samuel was awarded a Fulbright Grant to teach English and study music in Weimar, Germany. While in Weimar he taught at the Musikgymnasium Schloss Belvedere, sang in the chamber choir at the Franz Liszt Music Conservatory, and took choral conducting coursework under Professor Jürgen Puschbeck.

Samuel has sung professionally, both as a soloist and an ensemble member, and he remains active as a vocal artist. As a member of University of Southern California Thornton Chamber Singers, Dr. Barbara appeared on live television with Barry Manilow and sang backup with the Rolling Stones; worked closely with notable composers such as Morten Lauridsen, Paul Mealor, Wolfram Buchenberg, and David Conte; attended master classes with Rodney Eichenberger, Jamison Marvin, Joan Conlon and Vance George; and performed with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Helmuth Rilling. Under Dr. Barbara’s direction, the Westminster College Concert Choir appeared live onstage with the internationally renowned performing group "The Tenors," performed J.S. Bach’s Cantata 191 with the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra and collaborated with the Shenango Valley Chorale to present Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. Each year, the Concert Choir and Chamber Singers embarked on an extensive performance tour and, under his direction, the ensembles performed in cathedrals throughout Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Prior to serving at Westminster College, Dr. Barbara was Interim Director of Choral Activities at the University of Tennessee at Martin. While in Tennessee, Samuel presented for the Tennessee Music Educators Association, lectured on Music in Terezín as a part of the UT Martin Academic Speakers Series, conducted the UT Martin Honor Choir, and was invited by the West Tennessee Vocal Music Educators Association to adjudicate their choral and solo and ensemble festivals. Dr. Barbara has also presented his research at state conferences of the National Association for Music Education in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia and is published in volume four of Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir. Samuel served as Festival Host for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 5 Honors Chorus and Choral Music Performance Assessment, Treasurer for the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, as well as the tri-states chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Dr. Barbara is in demand as a guest conductor, choral clinician and adjudicator. His research interests include solfège as a path to music literacy, Evangelical church composers active during the Third Reich, and the choral music of the contemporary German composer, Wolfram Buchenberg.

Part-time Faculty

Alexander LaFollett, Ph.D

Music Theory | Aural Skills | Composition


Alexander LaFollettAlexander LaFollett is an Oregon-born composer and music theorist, as well as a PCC graduate. He earned his Ph.D. in music composition at the University of Oregon in 2013, at which point he returned to PCC as faculty, and currently teaches music theory, aural skills, and composition.

LaFollett's compositions are in a strange-yet-accessible style, based on an expansive, modally-based harmonic vocabulary. His primarily influences by Milhaud, Stravinsky, and Bartok, as well as Eastern European music, progressive rock, and early video game soundtracks. Most of LaFollett's work is in instrumental genres, and includes an ongoing series of orchestral pieces based on the periodic table of elements, as well as thirteen string quartets. His music has been performed by fEARnoMUSIC, Third Angle New Music, So Percussion with the Pacific Rim Gamelan, and the Portland Youth Philharmonic Young String Ensemble, among others.

He has also presented his theoretical work with expanded heptatonic modality for the West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis, and Society of Composers, Inc. (SCI) Region VIII.

For more information, please visit

Brian Gardiner, M.M.

Music Theory

Cherise Ann da Cunha, M.M.



Cherise Ann da CunhaCherise Ann da Cunha received a Bachelor of Music degree with a major in Piano Performance and a Master of Music degree with a major in Piano Pedagogy from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Miss da Cunha began her piano studies in Bombay, India, following the curriculum of the Trinity College of Music, London, under the instruction of Mrs. Ivy Fernandes. Upon her immigration to the United States she continued her piano instruction at Indiana University and subsequently at Texas Christian University (TCU).

Miss da Cunha completed her Masters degree in Piano Pedagogy under the instruction Mrs. Leanne Kirkham. She has collaborated with other artists in the US, Canada, India and England. She has been a prizewinner in TCU Gary Martin Piano Competition and winner of the IUSB Concerto Competition. A Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM), Miss da Cunha is a member of Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) and Oregon Music Teachers Association (OMTA).

Besides her teaching positions in Texas and Indiana, Miss da Cunha served on the piano faculty at North Central College and William Rainey Harper College in Illinois, and was local facilitator for Chicagoland SPELLS, a non-profit piano advocacy organization. Miss da Cunha served on the piano faculty at Pacific University in Forest Grove for five years, and was President of Portland District OMTA from 2011 to 2013. She is an adjudicator for OMTA Syllabus Examinations, and also serves on the OMTA Syllabus Committee at both State and Local levels. In addition to maintaining a full home teaching studio Miss da Cunha has taught piano at Portland Community College since 2002.

For more information, please visit

Dana Heer, M.S.T.

Piano | Aural Skills | Music Theory

Dr. Walter Carr, D.M.A

Ethnomusicology (Jazz, Rock, Folk) | Woodwinds | Online Learning

Hong Chou, B.M. and M.M.

Director of String Ensemble


Hong ChouAs the founder and artistic director of the Pacific Violin Academy and of The Wave Elements Global Music, Ms. Chou has been working on promoting musical arts for the community of Portland and at conferences.

In 2018, Ms. Chou gave a talk on Music Healing in Ancient China.

In 2017, she gave a premier performance of the “Tecate”, a three-movement composition for violin and piano by the American women composer Judy Bruce, at the College Music Society International Music Conference in Sydney, Australia.

She has given lecture recitals on music of the 20th Century China at the Northwest Pacific Region Conference of College Music Society, at Portland State University and at Portland Community Music Center. She has held teachers’ training workshop and has been organizing the American String Teachers Association Certification Advancement Program (ASTACAP) for many years. Ms. Chou has more than forty years of violin teaching experience, contributing local talented students to local orchestras such as Portland Youth Philharmonic, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Pro Arts, Columbia Symphony, Marylhurst University, Portland State University, and Pacific University. She has taught at the Preparatory Department of Cincinnati College Conservatory (CCM), Portland Community Music Center, Houston Youth Philharmonic Chamber Music Program. She has taught and given lectures recital at several International Music Festivals and Summer Camps in China. The most recent teaching abroad is at the Shenzhen Poly Theater Arts Education Center of China Poly Culture Group. She has served as violin adjudicator in Oregon, Washington, and China.

Ms. Chou received her Bachelor and Master of Music from Lewis and Clark College and the College Conservatory of Music at University of Cincinnati. Her own performances have brought her to China, Australia, as well as on university campuses in the United States. She was a touring member of Cincinnati Philharmonia participated in the International Mahler Festival in Paris and recorded in London. She had played under the baton of Victor Borger, and Maestro Avshalomov as a member of the Portland Youth Philharmonic, and as a member of Albany Symphony. She also studied with the American String Quartet in the Aspen International Summer Music Festival. Her training on the art of violin playing and teaching with masters in the field includes Violinist Joseph Silverstein in master class; Dorothy Richard Starling Chair of Classical Violin Kurt Sassmannshaus on teaching methods; one of the Concert master of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Naoko Tanaka on violin repertoire; and Cincinnati Symphony concert master Philip Ruder for orchestral repertoire. Foundational training learned from Katherine Gray of Oregon Symphony, Mrs. Davidson-Smith, as well as masters of the Suzuki teaching method, William Starr and John Kendall.

Ms. Chou is a member of the College Music Society, American String Teachers Association, and a board member of the Oregon String Teachers Association.

Jesse McCann, M.M.

Guitar Studies | Music Appreciation


Jesse McCannJesse McCann is an award-winning classical guitarist based in Portland, Oregon. He made his debut at age 17 on the gulf coast of Mississippi, winning first place in a number of local and regional guitar competitions. He studied with Miroslav Loncar and Natasha Klasinc. Upon receiving his Bachelor of Music, he relocated to Portland in 2002. Soon thereafter, he enrolled at Portland State University where he received a Master of Music under the direction of renowned composer, Bryan Johanson. In addition to being a top prize solo guitarist, he has led two award-winning guitar trios and is currently a member of the Oregon Guitar Quartet. He has also had the privilege of studying with some of the world's leading guitarists and composers including Dusan Bogdanovic, Denis Azabagic, Jason Vieux, and David Tanenbaum. Jesse is currently on staff for PSU and PCC's music faculty. He performs and teaches in the region as well.

Joelle Schaal, M.M.

Aural Skills | Music Theory

Judy Cervetto Hedberg, M.A

Intro to Music | Music Appreciation | Intro to Music and its Literature | Intro to History of Rock


Judy Cervetto HedbergJudy Cervetto Hedberg received a B. A. in music from Lewis and Clark College and a M. A. in music theory and literature from the University of Portland. She has been teaching online courses in music since the 1990s at Portland Community College, Clackamas Community College, and Chemeketa Community College. She developed many of these courses for the web and uses her own texts for her courses.

Judy, an accomplished harpsichord and classical accordion player, has performed in various ensembles throughout her musical career, including the Portland Community College Symphony, the University of Portland Concert Band, the Lewis and Clark College Concert Band, Lakewood Theater productions and National American Theater Organ Society Conventions. She is past president of Mu Phi Epsilon International Music Fraternity, Alumni Chapter, Portland, Oregon.

Ms. Hedbergs' personal and musical interests have inspired her to collect thousands of audio recordings from trips to Europe, China, North America, Africa, India, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Cuba, and many other locations, for use in her classes.

Julia Banzi, Ph.D.

Guitar | Music Cultures of the World


Julia BanziJulia Banzi received her Ph.D in Ethnomusicology and her M.A. from University of California as well as her B.M. from Lewis and Clark College. She is considered a pioneer for women on the guitar and her work reflects over twenty-five years of living, studying and performing in Spain and North Africa. Her principal teachers included Isidro Muñoz (Familia Muñoz-Sanlúcar) in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain; Felipe Maya, Juan Maya"Marote," David Serva (Diego del Moron), Rafael Morales in Madrid, Spain; Manolo Sanlúcar in the 1° Curso Internacional de "Sanlúcar de Barrameda" (Vicente Amigo discovery); Miguel Habichuela (Habichuela-Carmona Dynasty) in Granada, Spain and more recently studies with Gerardo Nuñez. She spent years in Madrid's Amor de Dios studios in Madrid, Spain accompanying flamenco dance including Ciro, la Tati and Manolete and is and one of a very few female flamenco guitarists worldwide.

Dr. Banzi, as a teacher, composer and performer, enjoys working with students of all levels, whether in flamenco, folk or classical and prepares students with both solo and ensemble skills and toward a lifetime of enjoyment and proficiency on the instrument. Fluent in Castellano, Julia instructs in both English & Spanish.

Julia continues to tour worldwide with regularity with the international performance ensemble, Al-Andalus ( which she also co-directs. Julia frequently gives talks worldwide on the subject of guitar, flamenco and women and music.

Dr. Banzi is a winner of the 2009 "Peoples Grammy Award" for "Best World Music Song of 2009" and was nominated for the "Best Contemporary Classical Album of 2010."

Liam Stalnaker, M.M.

Music Theory

Mario Diaz, M.M.

Music Theory

Matthew Farris, M.M.

Music Theory

Pamela Beaty, M.M.

Class Guitar | Fundamentals of Music


Pamela BeatyPamela Beaty received her B.M. in Guitar Performance with honors from Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University, where she studied with Pamela Kimmel, and her M.M. in Guitar Performance from the College Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati, where she studied with Clare Callahan. As a student, she performed in master classes for Leo Brouwer, Oscar Ghilglia, Manuel Lopez Ramos, and many others.

Pamela has taught guitar and other topics including Music Theory, World Music, and Music Appreciation for a number of years and has taught at Portland Community College for over eleven years. Her guitar classes are designed to give students a thorough introduction to guitar technique, music theory and ensemble skills.

Pamela first became aware of classical guitar after seeing the great Andres Segovia on TV. She immediately decided that would be her life's work and studied formally for over 15 years. After several years teaching World Music classes, Beaty became interested in Brazilian music, specifically the samba, choro, and especially bossa nova and the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Beaty has traveled twice to Brazil to study the music, culture and the language, and has attended the Choro Seminar at Centrum in Port Townsend twice to study with the Brazilian choro ensemble Trio Brasileiro. She is a member of the Portland Brazilian music ensemble Choro da Alegria. The ensemble released its first CD, "quiosque" in 2015.

For more information, please visit

Peter Zisa, M.M.

Guitar Studies | Music Theory


Peter Joseph ZisaDr. Peter Joseph Zisa is an award-winning performer on the six and eight string guitar. Zisa is grateful for his studies with David Grimes, and with legendary performers Maestro Andrés Segovia, José Rey de la Torre, José Tomas, and Oscar Ghiglia, who have contributed to his musical development.

Zisa holds a Masters Degree in classical guitar performance and a doctorate degree in Education. Zisa has authored more than a dozen books and articles on topics ranging from music history and music theory to guitar pedagogy and education. His lecture-performances include programs on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Santiago De Murcia, Fernando Sor, Nicolò Paganini, Francesco Tárrega, Alexandre Tansman, Manuel Ponce and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

In 2007, Zisa formed the world-music ensemble Thousand Waves, featuring Yukiko Yamaguchi on koto and LeeAnn McKenna on flute, with its program theme "West Meets East," and also instituted the Season of Lights Concert, an annual winter holiday tradition in the city of Portland, Oregon that brings together local musicians at The Old Church for a special, one-night-only musical event benefiting local charities. Zisa – with the help of Jason Palmer, Pam Beaty, and Anthony Catalan – introduced the Appreciating Music Concert Series at PCC Rock Creek, a performance series featuring some of Portland’s finest musicians. Zisa is an active supporter for the development and growth of the arts in the community and personally committed to supporting charitable organizations particularly those which benefit children and young people.

Courses taught include:

  • MUS 101 Intro to Music
  • MUS 105 Music Appreciation
  • MUS 108 Music Cultures of the World
  • MUS 110 Fundamentals of Music
  • MUS 111 Music Theory
  • MUS 191-193 Class Guitar
  • MUS 191 Class Piano
  • MUS 158 Chamber Ensemble
  • MUS 201 Music History
  • MUS 205 Intro to the History of Jazz
  • MUS 206 Intro to the History of Rock
  • MUS 220 Chorus